Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blog Tour: The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco (Review)

About the Book

Genre:  Cozy Mystery
• Paperback: 336 pages (Review copy e-galley)
• Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (July 8, 2014)
• ISBN-10: 0738740225
• ISBN-13: 978-0738740225

Alanis McLachlan isn’t surprised to learn that her estranged mother, Barbra, has been murdered. Her mom was a con woman who raised her daughter to be one, too. But what does surprise Alanis — who’s been trying to forge an honest, normal life for herself — is that Barbra left her an inheritance: a new-age shop called the White Magic Five & Dime. After traveling to tiny Berdache, Arizona, to claim her new property, Alanis decides to pick up her mother’s tarot-reading business…because she suspects that one of Barbra’s clients is the killer. With help from a hunky cop and her mom’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through bogus tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her suspects. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards. There’s one thing they can’t tell her, though: Will she solve the mystery before the murderer comes for her?

My Review

Although Alanis McLachlan has been estranged from her mother for many years, her mother’s murder has a huge impact on her life and the decisions she has to make. For starters, she’s stunned to learn that she is going to inherit her mother’s tarot business. She can’t figure out why her mother would leave it to her when they have had no contact for such a long time, but Alanis plans to take advantage of this opportunity. She’s going to use the business to track down her mother’s killer.

She travels to the small town of Berdache, Arizona to claim her inheritance. Upon her arrival, she quickly learns she is not welcome. That doesn’t stop Alanis.  In fact it makes her more determined than ever, despite the threatening calls warning her to leave town. There is no way she is leaving until she learns who killed her mother.

There are two people willing to help her, but neither is all that happy to see her stick around. There’s the handsome cop in charge of the investigation, Josh Logan, and her mother’s teenage apprentice, Clarice Stewart. Clarice is more than a little annoyed that the shop was left to Alanis and Logan is more than a little scared for Alanis’ safety.

Alanis re-opens her mother’s business and immediately gives people bogus tarot readings. It’s the only kind she knows how to give since she never learned the business. She hopes it will help to worm her way into the lives of her mother’s clients and perhaps she can learn something helpful.

Alanis has a dry, cynical and sarcastic kind of humor. This isn’t a slapstick, hilarious comedy. It’s more like a subtle humor laced through a mystery. I immediately loved Alanis. She felt true-to-life to me – not a saint, but not evil either. Shades of gray would be the best way to describe her.  I think it says quite a bit about Alanis that, at great risk to her own safety, she stubbornly refused to give up her search for her mother's killer.  She's a strong woman that won't back down from a challenge.

The rest of the characters were portrayed quite vividly and they literally came off the page. The characters brought so much life to this book. Some a bit eccentric, some truly evil, and maybe a good guy tossed in there too.

Readers get to know the relationship between Alanis and her mother through the use of flashbacks sprinkled throughout the story. Sometimes flashbacks annoy me or tend to make me lose track of the current storyline, but not in this book. I thought it enhanced the storytelling tremendously and added a unique quality.

I read through this book rather quickly. I just couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next. It's a charming, captivating tale.  Being an avid mystery reader, I often can pick up on whodunit early in a book, but not with this one. I didn’t see it coming and I loved every minute of trying to figure it out. Excellent writing with memorable characters. What more could I ask for in a book?

On a side note:  The cover and title may lead you to believe this is a paranormal cozy mystery.  It's not.  It's a straight mystery.  There aren't any paranormal aspects.

For reading challenges:
Where are you reading? challenge (Arizona)
2014 Netgalley Reading Challenge

FTC Disclosure: NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Steve Hockensmith’s first novel, Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony and Dilys awards. He went on to write four sequels as well as a pair of bestselling follow-ups to the international publishing sensation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. More recently, he wrote (with collaborator “Science Bob” Pflugfelder) the middle-grade mysteries Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab and Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage.

Author Links:

Purchase Links
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  1. Thanks for the review! I had seen this one but ended up passing on it because I thought it was too paranormal sounding. Sounds like I'll definitely have to read it now. Alanis sounds like my kind of character!

  2. I like dry and sarcastic humor. :)

    Is this a cozy or a straight up murder mystery? I don't mind the lack of paranormal aspects. I find that it doesn't always mix well with cozies.

    1. I think it's more like a straight up murder mystery then your typical cozy but I guess it's a fine line and can go either way.

  3. Sounds like a good read. This is a new-to-me author, but I will definitely check it out!

  4. Great review, Yvonne! I agree with all your points. And you're right, it's not a paranormal mystery, but there are a few hints that Tarot might be more than a scam in the right hands. Whether it's just a useful tool for focusing your thoughts and insights or something a little more psychic is left up to the reader to determine. The quotes from "Miss Chance" are a hoot, though!


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